India to Face Pakistan in Crucial Super Four Clash

Former Pakistan tearaway pacer Shoaib Akhtar believes Babar will have to show some smartness as a captain after nearly letting the game against India at Pallekele drift away due to giving more overs to spinners…reports Asian Lite News

Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes that the entire batting unit has to click as a unit to play amazing cricket from now onwards and achieve the goal of lifting the World Cup on home soil.

India’s batting in the Asia Cup has been a mixed bag. They were reduced to 47/4 before Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya stepped up in a pressure situation to stitch an important 138-run partnership and take India to 266 in an abandoned game against Pakistan.

Against Nepal, their chase was reset to 145 in 23 overs due to rain, which they achieved with ease as Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were unseparated while smashing their respective half-centuries. India will commence their Super Four run against Pakistan at Colombo on Sunday.

“Batting needs to come good, as batting has been going through a lot of ups and downs in the last few years. A lot will depend not just on Rohit and Virat, it also depends on the middle-order.”

“Like, Shreyas is just back after a long injury, Ishan Kishan looks good and K.L. Rahul is also back after an injury. Hardik Pandya will also be crucial with the bat and all of them have to come together to play amazing cricket and lift the Cup, something which will be very challenging to be honest,” said Harbhajan in a virtual press conference organised by Star Sports.

With Pakistan emerging as a force to reckon with thanks to their fiery fast-bowling line-up and in-form batters in captain Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed, Harbhajan thinks they stack up equally against India ahead of another round of the rivalry between the two teams.

“Even three years back, we would give India an 80 percent chance to win against Pakistan. But now, we put them as equals because Pakistan have played together as a unit for the past two years.”

“They played the final last year and lost in the semifinal the year before, that too because of a miracle of an innings played by Wade. So teams are made only when you play together and India will have a slight disadvantage on that front,” he added.

Former Pakistan tearaway pacer Shoaib Akhtar believes Babar will have to show some smartness as a captain after nearly letting the game against India at Pallekele drift away due to giving more overs to spinners.

“He is a far more better captain than he was two years ago. Babar’s mindset has to be aggressive he should keep thinking about taking wickets and bowl out the opposition, and not let the bowlers bowl the entire 50 overs.”

“I don’t think Babar should have given that many overs to spinners. He could have kept the pace battery intact from one end and a spinner from the other. That is where I disagree with Babar, he used spin too much and gave up on the attack.”

Against India at Pallekele, pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi (4-35), Naseem Shah (3-36) and Haris Rauf (3-58) were amongst the wicket-takers in that game. Akhtar expressed delight over the pace trio dominating the Indian batters but wished to see a spin-bowling all-rounder to balance the playing eleven.

“These youngsters are very, very talented. It gives me so much happiness to think that Pakistan is being able to produce such fast bowlers over and over again. I would say Shaheen Shah Afridi’s bowling is at the top of his career right now, and Haris Rauf has the same mindset, that he just has to keep picking wickets.”

“I sent a message for Naseem Shah, and to other players as well, to bowl more wicket-taking deliveries rather than being a stock bowler. So, I am sure that the message has been conveyed (to them). I think this trio (of Shaheen, Haris and Naseem), is one of the best in the world.”

“They have proved time and time again that they can get people out, as simple as that. But I think we are a spinner short. Shadab (Khan) is very good, leg spin is a difficult art. I think one spin-bowling all-rounder is missing from the team,” he concluded.

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